Were Having A Heat Wave:Tips For Keeping Cool
WE'RE HAVING A HEAT WAVE:TIPS FOR KEEPING COOL
This summer's heat wave is especially difficult for older adults.Elderly bodies don't adjust as well to temperature changes as they did when they were younger.Certain diseases and medications may affect your parent's sensitivity to heat and ability to regulate body temperature.Aging bodies don't produce enough perspiration to keep an older person cool when the weather gets hot and he or she may be at risk for serious heat-related conditions.
Understanding the effects of hot weather on older people can help caregivers stay older relatives stay cool and comfortable during a heat wave.
When an older adult's body cannot maintain its normal temperature during extreme heat it cannot produce the perspiration that will him cool off.As a result your parent's body temperature may quickly rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10 or 15 minutes.
Signs of heat stroke include:
- Feeling faint
- Rapid pulse
- Dry, reddened skin
- Agitation, anxiety, nervousness
Without immediate treatment, very high body temperatures can result in permanent disability or death according to the Centers for Disease Control.If an older relative develops any of these symptoms during hot weather call 911 immediately.
Heat exhaustion is less serious than heat stroke.However it still needs prompt attention to keep your parent comfortable and keep it from becoming heat stroke.Heat exhaustion symptoms include:
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Fast pulse rate, rapid shallow breathing
- Slightly increased body temperature
If an older family member becomes overheated outdoors, get him or her out of the sun and into the shade or air-conditioning. Sponge him with cool water and offer sips of water.Stay with him until he feels better.If heat-related symptoms continue seek immediate medical help.
SEVEN TIPS FOR KEEPING COOL
Families need to be aware of the serious effects of prolonged hot weather on their older relatives and devise strategies to help them stay cool, comfortable and healthy.Call or visit your parent several times a day to see how he is coping with the hot weather.
1. Encourage your parent to sip water frequently throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
2. Avoid drinking ice water — it can cause cramps or alcoholic drinks that increase dehydration.
3. Treat your parent to a cooling sponge bath or shower.
4. Provide comfortable, light-weight clothing.
5. Hot weather may affect your parent's appetite.Offer small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day.
6. If you parent has diabetes monitor blood sugar levels carefully.Ask the doctor if any changes in her meal plan are needed.
7. Your relative may take "water pills" diuretics — for other illnesses.Ask the doctor if your parent should increase or decrease during hot weather.
Staying cooped up in the house during a hot spell can be tiresome.If you both need to get out of the house, visit the nearest mall and window-shop or spend the afternoon at the public library.Take in a movie matinee and stop for ice cream on the way home
"WHEN THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL"
Next winter when you and your older relative are snowbound you'll find it hard to believe how hot the summer was.It may have been a hard time but you both now know how to stay healthy, safe and comfortable during the next heat wave.
Source: The Benjamin Rose Institute Cleveland, Oh